Tuesday, June 26, 2012

John P. Miller


His colleages at Disney called him Jack. He worked at the studio between 1934 and 1942 as a story and Vis Dev artist -exraordinaire!! 
Probably his most famous accomplishment is his work on the short Baby Weems, which was part of Disney's Live Action/Animated film "The Reluctant Dragon" from 1941.
Walt must have been so impressed with Miller's work that he invited him to join "El Grupo" for the now famous trip to South America, where a few Disney artists studied and sketched local art and folklore as research for a variety of upcoming short films. Other members in that group included Frank Thomas, Mary Blair, Lee Blair, Herb Ryman and James Bodrero.
To find out more about that trip and its significance in wartime history watch Ted Thomas' fantastic film "Walt & and El Grupo"  It is available on Amazon :

But back to Baby Weems, which is unique in that it's story is told by showing Miller's storyboard sketches only. There is a very limited amount of animation on the screen to add a little flair.
Joe Grant and Dick Huemer wrote the story treatment, and the whole thing works beautifully without being fully animated.

Below is a sampling of Miller's story sketches, they rank among the best ever done at the studio.
Everything comes together here, simple charm, irreverent humor, great staging and some exraordinary line work.

Go over to Michael Spoorn's blog, a while ago he posted an article on J.P.Miller, written by the one and only John Canemaker for ASIFA magazine. It's a must read, and shows some stunning artwork.
Here are the links for part one and two :


  1. Wow, Jon Miller's art is amazing. Mind Blowing Sketches.
    The old school animation and art was/is amazing.
    Thank you, they are really inspiring.

    1. love the old doctors faces;warm animator style

  2. This post is great! I love the old style look it has and the baby has so much character in these drawings.

    I know that you get this all the time but I was wondering if you could please take a look at some of my gesture drawings of animals and people. I had a few teachers and friends say that getting a job at Disney straight out of school is not possible, and that my drawings are no way near anything good. So I was hoping you could tell me what gestures that I have are ok and what I need to improve on.

    I know you most likely don't want to give your e-mail out over the internet...so my e-mail is hervoniabaker@yahoo.com

  3. Baby Weems never really made a heavy impression on me, HOWEVER at second glance, it's obvious how strong the staging in these drawings are. The communicate SO well and command the eye where to travel.

    I agree the story sketches were strong enough to tell the story and is a nice contrast in storytelling. A kind of "storybook" feeling and charm. (It reminds me of the Tom and Jerry short "Johann Mouse")

    I would love to see someone have the courage to tell a story like this today considering how hyperactive information is delivered in this generation.

  4. Is it me or does John Miller look like Bob Clampett.